Biodiversity and Conservation, Day 1

Wildlife in our homes and gardens

There is a huge variety of wildlife found locally, in our gardens and local green spaces. It is important to monitor this diversity, to see whether it changes seasonally, or over time as our green spaces in Britain become more urbanised.

For these tasks, you will need access to the internet, a pen or pencil, and blank sheets of paper to work on.

How to monitor wildlife in the garden

The Natural History Museum created their Wildlife Garden in 1995 and have been monitoring the wildlife within ever since! Read the article to discover the kinds of wildlife found in an urban London garden. Make brief notes on the different monitoring techniques used – be sure to also watch the video about moth trapping, by retired entomologist Martin Honey! Have you ever seen any of these examples of urban wildlife in outside spaces near you? Keep an eye out next time you go for a walk!

Observing spider webs

One way to monitor wildlife without directly viewing it is to look for traces that that animal is present. For example, tracks or animal homes show that an animal lives nearby. Spider webs are built by many kinds of spider. You can identify the kind of spider that built the web by examining the structure of the web. Read the article about spider webs, and make brief notes on the main types of spider webs found in the UK. Then, take the spiders web quiz to test your knowledge.

Creative task

Choose one kind of spider’s web you have learnt about to build a model or draw a picture of. You could use string, thread, paints or any other materials you can think of! Label the features of your web which would aid a spider in catching prey and describe what kinds of spider would build a web like yours.

Spiders in the home

Not many spiders are able to live in UK homes. If you do happen to see one, use this guide to get to know your houseguest a little better!

The importance of bees

One important aspect of British insect diversity is our bees. There are over 20,000 bee species worldwide, and around 270 species in the UK. Depending on which format you prefer, either watch the video, or read the article, to find out more about the importance of bee diversity.

There are six particularly common bee species seen in the UK. You can use this guide to identify them. When you are identifying any animal, it is important to look closely and pay attention to details. For example, bee-flies look very similar to bees, but there is one key difference to look out for – find out how to tell the difference in this article.

Planning an experiment to monitor local bumblebees

Imagine you are going to do a survey, to investigate how the most common kind of bumblebee changes over summer in your local area. In this imaginary survey, you would spend three months over the summer monitoring how many of each of the six most common bee kinds visit a specific place.

Use A4 paper to plan your experiment. Your plan should include the following sections:

  • Introduction: explain why you are doing the experiment, and what your research question is.
  • Methods: explain what you will do.
    • Think about where you will monitor the bees. This could be a flowerpot outside your window, a flowerbed in a garden or a small floral area of a local outdoor space. You will not actually be recording the data but think about places that bees are likely to visit to pick a suitable location.
    • How long will you record bees for?
    • What things will you need to keep the same? For example, will you check the area at the same time every day, or will you only look when the weather is sunny, or only when it is rainy?
  • Data: create a table which you will use to record how many of each bee you see.
    • You only need to record the six most common kinds of bumblebee.
    • Remember to include separate areas for each months’ data sets.
  • Results: think about what kind of graph you would use to display your data.
    • Although you do not have data, think about what your axis labels would be and draw the axis in a space on your plan.
    • Hint: look at examples of ‘grouped bar charts’ if you get stuck.
  • Discussion: this is where you make your conclusion.
    • You cannot make any conclusion without data, so leave this blank for now.

Using data to make a conclusion

A student did an experiment like yours – they recorded how many of each of the most common kinds of bee landed on a flowerpot outside their window for three months. Their data is shown in the table below. Note that the student has recorded the number of bees they observed each month.

Use this table to complete your own data table, create a results graph and make a conclusion. Your conclusion should answer your research question: ‘How does the most common kind of bumblebee change over summer in my local area?’

bee speciesnumber of bees seen: month 1number of bees seen: month 2number of bees seen: month 3
Common carder bumblebee5610
Red tailed bumblebee19128
Early nesting bumblebee100
Buff tailed bumblebee605861
White tailed bumblebee898
Garden bumblebee220

Optional extra – Attracting bees to your home

Would you like to attract more bees to your home? Why not try planting bee-friendly plants, or build a bee hotel? Make sure this is a private outdoor space and that you have permission to do this. You can identify the bees that come to visit using this portable ID guide.

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